Written by Staff Writer
By Kathryn O’Hara
(CNN) — It’s been a roller coaster of a year for the cigarette market, but it seems to be settling down for the moment. Cigarette shipments have fallen for four consecutive months. They’ve also dropped for four consecutive quarters, according to new data from the International Tobacco Atlas released Thursday by the Geneva-based World Health Organization.
The decline — 1.9% in January and a 2.4% drop in January and November — looks to be over.
“When the epidemic picked up in 2015, the ship and the pricing strategy changed very quickly and never really recovered,” said Fabrice Tassinand, manager of tax policy and communication for the Union of Tax Administrators of France, one of the reports’ sponsors. “That all seems to be happening again. You see the cigarette market returning to stability and a reduction in smoking deaths.”
Countries around the world have used their taxes to control the tobacco industry, including countries that introduced excise taxes three decades ago. While some heavy tax hikes have proven fruitful, a long-term solution requires strict regulations on marketing and product innovation, Tassinand said.
Eight countries — including Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Slovenia, Greece and Spain — still have cigarette exports. The highest price points in the tobacco-exporting countries on average are $24, the report shows. The lowest are $13.25 in Belgium, $15.50 in Belgium, $16.25 in France, $21.50 in Hungary, $27.25 in Ireland, $28.75 in Lithuania, $34.50 in Italy, $39.50 in Ukraine, $39.75 in Slovakia, $46.25 in Greece and $46.25 in Spain.
The average price of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $7.79. And prices here are expected to rise 1.9% this year, according to the Heath Information Institute.
“This year is a very important year with the 14th anniversary of the total US ban on smoking in public places,” said Mary Ward, health promotion director of the American Lung Association of Virginia. “It’s been a very good year so far — the anniversary of the ban will go a long way in furthering this whole health policy agenda.”
Before the ban, “from an American Lung Association perspective, we had lost the battle,” she said. “It was very exciting and the victory was very well earned.”
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